On this early December day I give you a gesture of oaks. A portrait of some of the oaks I see nearly every day when I take my walks. You can see why I look upon this and see a painting.
I’ve heard it said that in order to paint the landscape there’s no need for an underlying gesture such as you look for in composing the figure. But I cannot begin a landscape without an underlying gesture. No landscape is merely restful; if it were, there’d be no engagement for the eye and spirit of the observer. If none for the observer, can you imagine how tedious an exercise to paint, for the painter?
I look upon landscape and I see the nude– the vital breathing energy of land and living things. Ever in motion from one curve to the next, or jagged stone to wind-wrought grass. Changeful in temper and shape, cut by water, broken by gravity. Fallen stone, eroded earth. The trees and shrubs struggle on their rack between soil and sky, tortured and shaped by their opposing needs for water and sun, even as we humans are, who look upon the land and fancy we can own it.
So maybe one day this season, as the air takes on an edge, I’ll cart my paintbox, my faithful Jullian, out to the rise and set up my gear to paint this tree and its competitors in silent struggle under the long December light.